Deadline: February 23, 2017

Agency/Sponsor: National Science Foundation


The PFE: Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (PFE: RIEF) program has two goals: 1) Support research in the Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE), and 2) Increase the community of researchers conducting PFE research. PIs are expected to have little or no experience conducting social science research. PFE: RIEF is not intended for established researchers in engineering education or other social science fields to initiate new projects. Those researchers should consider the Research in the Formation of Engineers program (

The NSF Engineering (ENG) Directorate has launched a multi-year initiative, the Professional Formation of Engineers, to create and support an innovative and inclusive engineering profession for the 21st Century. Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE) refers to the formal and informal education and value systems by which people become engineers. It also includes the ethical responsibility of practicing engineers to sustain and grow the profession. The engineering profession must be responsive to national priorities, grand challenges, and dynamic workforce needs; it must be equally open and accessible to all.

Engineering faculty possess both deep technical expertise in their engineering discipline and the primary responsibility for the process of professional formation of future engineers. As such, engineering faculty are in a unique position to help address critical challenges in engineering formation. The Professional Formation of Engineers: Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (PFE: RIEF) program enables engineering faculty who are renowned for teaching, mentoring, or leading educational reform efforts on their campus to develop expertise in conducting engineering education research.

Award Information

Estimated Number of Awards: 15 

Anticipated Funding Amount: $3,000,000 

Eligibility Information

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Universities and Colleges - Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in, the US acting on behalf of their faculty members. Such organizations also are referred to as academic institutions.

Who may serve as PI: 

The PFE: RIEF program is designed to expand the community of engineering faculty equipped to conduct research in professional formation of engineers. At least one (co) PI must be a member of an engineering department AND not have received engineering education or professional formation funding through EEC in the last three years.

Submissions from senior faculty and faculty who have recently received tenure and are exploring alternative career paths are especially encouraged. The program is not intended to create an additional funding channel for researchers with expertise in social science research; such researchers should apply to the Research in the Formation of Engineers program (, or other related NSF opportunities.

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